Your Resolutions Can Build Resilience!
The post-Christmas lull can be a wonderful time can’t it? The bigger social commitments are probably done, the bigger meals have probably been cooked and cleared away, and the wine is still flowing. Hoorah! ? You look towards your New Year plans and an element of self reflection comes into your thoughts, quite naturally. “Where was I at this time last year, what have I achieved this year and what do I, or we want to focus on this year?”. That reflection can be a great thing if you’ve had a good year but it can start to be disabling if things have been difficult for some reason. Or for lots of reasons quite possibly because life is like that, we very rarely go straight from A to B in what we’re trying to achieve. What would be the fun in that?! <<Sigh>> It can be hard work though can’t it, this self reflection? Please promise me one thing. Please don’t disable your resolutions by focussing on what you didn’t manage to achieve. Let your resolutions build your resilience for 2019.
Managing the Negatives
Our sub-conscious mind has evolved to keep us safe and so naturally it’ll focus on the negatives. Our internal dialogue might sound something like this:
- Mind that….
- Watch out for…..
- Don’t do that again, it didn’t work out well last time
- Don’t talk to them, they’re not very helpful
- There’s no point……you didn’t stick to it last time
It’s not always great is it, our internal dialogue? It can focus on all the things we meant to do but didn’t, the plans we had that didn’t pan out for some reason and the personal development we intended to do but didn’t because we felt so overwhelmed by this thing called life. It’s good to have plans, even if they do get side-tracked or completely kyboshed. There’s usually a reason for why things didn’t go well, it’s not just that we thought “I can’t be bothered” and if you did think that there was probably a reason why you felt low on energy. Or maybe it was something you weren’t really invested in anyway, just a ‘should’ that might have been imposed on you by someone else.
Ah, the good old days
Thinking back to when I was a child, in the last millennium ? the shops weren’t open on a Sunday and it was more usual for only one parent to have a car. So if one of em was out we walked to places. I know! Isn’t that an outrageous thing?! I think generations always hark back to simpler times because while life is made easier by advances in travel, technology and communication it also raises the expectation of what we’ll achieve during a day. Advancement is good but has it reduced the amount of time we have to ourselves, not just as individuals but as family and friends too? If we’re together these days, we’re more likely to be doing something to entertain ourselves so the art of just ‘being’ seems to have been lost ☹ I’m veering back towards the concept of hygge I think:
- a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being, regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture.
Playing board games, putting up Christmas trees, watching Christmas film repeats that you’ve already seen loads of times ? It’s good stuff isn’t it but I suspect it doesn’t happen as much any more, in this millennium because we’re always off doing something. Doing, not just being.
Manage Your Expectations
Anyhoo! I’m digressing slightly, my point is, please don’t just focus on the things you didn’t manage to achieve last year. Focus on the fact that you, and hopefully the people you love and care about made it through the year, or remember fondly those that left your life. Think about what you’d like to achieve from a personal perspective, in terms of personal and professional development maybe and also what you and your family and friends want to achieve. Dreams and ambitions are great but don’t disable yourself by creating plans that are too rigid. If you want to go to Switzerland for a holiday next year, that’s very doable but does it need to be by Easter? If you’d love to learn Italian but end up doing it in the Autumn term next year instead of the Spring term because someone in your family was unwell and you were helping them out, it doesn’t really matter does it? Some days, getting through the day is enough and acknowledging it as a difficult one will help you process any stress and anxiety, build your resilience and sustain a more positive cycle of thinking.
As I’m a lover of a mental image, try to visualise a table with all your plans from last year on it. Picture the plans you achieved happily (well done!) and move them into a file, box, drawer or in-tray with ‘well done me, I am fabulous!’ written on it. Now picture the things you didn’t manage to get to. Picture any regret, sad faces, disappointment, frustration, anger, upset and other negative emotions you associate with those plans. Now wipe (with a flourish please!), the whole collection into a bin, bucket or bin liner which has a big sticker with ‘t’weren’t meant to be’ written on it. Because it wasn’t; for whatever reason, those plans last year were not meant to be and so reflecting on them and re-connecting with those negative emotions is not going to make you feel tip top for focusing on the positives of what delights this new year will bring ?
Perspective is important and I’m not saying that we should ignore the difficult things that happen to us but by mentally ‘clearing the decks’ of the negative emotions associated with difficult events sometimes, we allow ourselves to stop carrying the weight of disappointment, frustration and upset for instance, and allow ourselves to move forward. It can take time to disconnect from negative events and emotions but by focusing on what you’d like to achieve in the future you can shift your perspective from a negative place to a more positive, smiling and happy place.
Positive Focus Please!
Try to keep your resolutions focussed towards the positive; I want to be fitter and heathier, instead of I want to lose weight or stop drinking. I want to focus on my wellbeing, instead of I need to join a yoga class. I want to travel and experience new things, instead of I need to make time for a decent holiday. You get my point, it’s important that we word things positively and give ourselves enough scope to achieve things. SMART targets are great at work but tying yourself to very specific personal goals can just set you up to fail and make you feel anxious as soon as you’ve defined them. Give yourself some space and time to achieve things. If I want to travel and experience new things, making it to the Edinburgh festival will achieve that if all hopes of Switzerland have gone out of the window for some reason.
Focus on Yourself
If you’ll allow me one ask, please add ‘I’ll be kind to myself and the people I love and care about’ onto your list. And you are at the front of that list for a reason thank you! If you’re kind to yourself then being kind to others feels like a pleasure. If you’re not, it can feel like a duty, an obligation and a total pain in the *** ☹ Not so great.
So reflect on past times and the things that made you smile, and leave the rest in the ‘t’weren’t meant to be’ bag which needs to be thrown away at some point please, or allowed to float away into the ether. Then make some new plans and resolutions that can make you smile, make you feel proud and happy. That can be the foundation of your resilience for 2019 – you’re running it and it’s not running you. You’re in charge! Now let’s kick the *** out of 2019! Bring. It. On. ?
Take good care please and have a great day.
Best wishes, Karen